Tuesday, June 23, 2009

US-Backed Somalia Government Calls For Intervention Amid Total Collapse

US-Backed Somalia Government Calls For Intervention Amid Total Collapse

Resistance forces control large sections of the country; Ethiopian troops re-enter

by Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
News Analysis

A worsening security situation in Somalia has prompted the US-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to declare a state of emergency and issue a call for military support from both neighboring countries as well as the "international community." Attacks on the fragile security apparatus resulting in the death of Minister Omar Hashi Aden, has created panic among officials in the TFG and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

AMISOM has 4,300 troops stationed in the capital of Mogadishu where they have been accused of launching attacks that have led to the deaths of hundreds of Somali civilians. The AMISOM operation is heavily underwritten by the U.S. government to the tune of over $160 million. Troops involved in AMISOM are from Uganda and Burundi, two regimes that are allied with the U.S. and have received substantial military assistance from successive administrations over the years.

In fighting on June 20, clashes took place in Hamarweh, a suburb outside of the capital of Mogadishu. Other fighting was reported in the northern Karan district.

"I saw heavily armed Islamist fighters advancing onto Hamarweh area. They are firing mortar shells and government forces are retaliating," said Warsameh Ahmed, a Mogadishu resident in an interview with the French Press Agency. (AFP, June 22)

Ahmed said that "It seems they (the Islamists) are close to taking control of the area."

Thousands of Somalis fled the capital during the weekend of June 19-22 adding to the already 400,000 people who have taken up residence in the Afgooye corridor, about 20 kilometers south of the capital. Mohamed Hassan Had, the chairman of the Hawiye traditional elders, condemned the AMISOM military forces for the indiscriminate bombing and shelling of residential areas where 30 people were reported killed and 100 others wounded.

On June 20, the speaker of the parliament for the TFG, Sheikh Aden Mohamed Nor, (also known as Madobe) held a press conference in the capital where he made an urgent appeal for military intervention. Specifically Madobe requested the assistance of several neighboring countries including Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Yemen. He stated that these states should move into Somalia within twenty-four hours.

Madobe stated that the TFG was on the verge of collapse and accused Al-Qaeda of being behind the recent offensive against the government that began on May 7. Two resistance movements, Al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam, have taken the lead in the struggle to remove the government of Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

"The government is weakened by the rebel forces. We ask neighboring countries--including Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Yemen--to send troops to Somalia within 24 hours. We have a state of emergency in this country because foreign fighters from all over the world are fighting the government," Madobe said. (AFP, June 22)

Echoing the appeal for intervention by the TFG government, the African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Jean Ping announced on June 22 that the government in Mogadishu "has the right to seek support from AU member states and the larger international community." (AFP, June 22)

In addition, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) has called for intervention as well. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary General of the OIC stated that "It has become inevitable that the international community should intervene immediately to support the transitional government, re-establish order and lighten the suffering innocent civilians. (AFP, June 22)

Ethiopian Troops Re-enter Southern and Central Regions

There have been reports that Ethiopian troops have already re-entered Somalia in the southern region of Bakol. Ethiopian military forces occupied Somalia at the aegis of the United States from December 2006 to January 2009. Resistance from the Islamic Courts Union (UIC) and other groups led to the withdrawal of Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian regime is backed by the U.S. and relied upon intelligence and logistical support during its intervention in Somalia in December 2006. A negotiated settlement with moderate forces inside the UIC created a new transitional government led by Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. However, Al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam has refused to enter the TFG until all AMISOM forces are withdrawn from the country and the composition of the government is changed.

Despite recent reports of Ethiopian military troops inside of Somalia, the government in Addis Ababa has denied invovlement and is saying that it will intervene only if there is an international mandate from the United Nations.

According to Mohammed Adow of Al-Jazeera, "Ethiopia has got a big stake in what is going on in Somalia because it believes that its security would be threatened if the Islamist militias, such as Al-Shabab, take over Somalia. But I doubt it is sending its forces into Somalia, unless it gets its actions sanctioned by the United Nations, which would take weeks, if not months." (Al-Jazeera, June 22)

Adow said in the same report that "Ethiopia's return to Somalia might be about securing its borders rather than heading to Mogadishu." Nonetheless, the Shabelle Media Network reported on June 22 that Ethiopian soldiers have already set up check points Kala-beykra in the Hiran region in central Somalia.

"The Ethiopian troops in Kala-beyrkra intersection search all the traffic including the Lorries for several hours. They bring all things down from the vehicles and then search the passengers. There are three places in which the Ethiopian troops search cars and regulate traffic," one driver was quoted as saying. (Shabelle.net, June 22)

In addition to reports of Ethiopian military intervention back into Somalia, the government in Kenya has also threatened military invovlement as well. Prime Minister Raila Odinga on June 22 held a joint press conference with Somalia Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake to discuss the situation in the neighboring country.

"When I was in Geneva last week, I talked to various agencies to help Somalia deal with the problem, and to also help us deal with the influx of refugees into Kenya. There is also a need to provide military assistance to deal with the situation in Somalia." (Kenya Daily Nation, June 22)

According to the Daily Nation "Odinga appealed to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the United Nations and the U.S. government to move in and save the Somalia Transitional Federal Government from being overrun by the insurgents."

Odinga also mentioned during the press conference that the international community must fulfill its pledge to allocate $213 million to assist the Somalia government. The decision to allocate money to prop-up the TFG was made at a recent meeting on Somalia held in Brussels, Belgium.

Meanwhile in Kismayu, the port city 500 kilometers from the capital of Mogadishu, local authorities allied with the Islamic resistance forces, accused the Kenyan government of intervening in the area. Sheikh Hassan Ya'qub, who heads the local Islamic administration, said that the Kenyans should stop their involvement in the city as well as in the Jubba regions in southern Somalia.

"We are warning Kenya. We are saying to them that we are not in a glass house so if you continue interfering in Somali affairs or attack our people or country, we shall not be silent. We shall attack locations in Nairobi." (Shabelle.net, June 21)

Ya'qub also accused aid agencies of acting as spies for western countries. He alleged that the agencies, which are acting as if they are assisting people, are in reality collecting intelligence on the people in Somalia. According to Shabelle Media Network, Kenyan troops have moved to the border between the two countries.

Imperialist-backed Intervention Must Be Opposed

Any attempts to engage in another large-scale invasion and occupation of Somalia must be opposed by the anti-war and anti-imperialist movements in the United States. The people of Somalia have been victims of consitent interference in their internal affairs.

In 1992, the first Bush administration sent thousands of marines into Somalia under the code name "Operation Restore Hope." The aim was to purportedly supply material aid since there was no recognized central government. The operation was soon exposed as an imperialist occupation and met fierce resistance from the Somali people, resulting in the withdrawing of U.S. forces by 1994.

However, thousands of Somalis died at the hand of the U.S. and other allied forces which included the former colonial power of Italy as well as the Canadian government. Since 2001, the U.S. administrations have charged Somalia with being a haven for Al-Qaeda. In fact the most recent advances by Al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam have been blamed on Al-Qaeda. Both organizations have denied any affiliation with Al-Qaeda and state emphatically that they are based in Somalia and concerned about the foreign interference in their country.

With the failure of the U.S.-backed occupation carried out by Ethiopia, the Obama administration has increased support for the AMISOM forces inside the country. Yet only Uganda and Burundi have sent troops to prop-up the TFG, while other African states have refused to intervene.

The so-called "piracy problem" has also been utilized as a justification for greater U.S. and European Union involvement with the stationing and patrolling of warships in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. The Kenya government, which has called for military intervention in Somalia, recently agreed to the establishment of a 'piracy tribunal' on its territory where Somalis captured at sea can be detained and prosecuted.

After the Ethiopian military invaded Somalia in December 2006, the worse humanitarian crisis on the continent of Africa was created. It has been reported that over a million people have been dislocated since Ethiopia's occupation began and some 300,000 have perished.

The persistent imperialist adventures of the U.S. and its allies in Somalia will be met with further resistance. The Somali people have demonstrated over the years that they are prepared and willing to defend the sovereignty of their country.
Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire. The author has been following U.S. invovlement in Somalia and the Horn of Africa for many years.

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